Introducing exoplanets, observing sites, telegrams and converters @ arcsecond.io

What an exciting time! I am very happy to announce that partial implementations of exoplanets, observing sites, telegrams and converters are now available at arcsecond.io! Moreover, People, Finding Charts and Publications have been also included in the pipe and will be announced later, once available.

Let’s go through it. First, exoplanets. I’ve been using exoplanet.eu catalog since a long time in iObserve, and the current implementation in arcsecond.io uses that source. By itself, this catalog is already an aggregation of multiple sources. But the real value of arcsecond.io is integration. Hence, the exoplanets will be a consolidation of what exoplanet.eu return with that of the NASA Exoplanet Archive

To access an individual planet, follow this example:

api.arcsecond.io/1/exoplanets/51 Peg b

To access the whole catalog, leave empty the exoplanet name.

Second, observing sites. The story about these observing sites is amazingly long, since it became a concern at the origin of iObserve, when it was only a … dashboard widget, 10 years ago, with OSX Tiger! This is a new implementation now, and the definitive one, in arcsecond.io. It will allow to build a community-based source of information about observatories and observing sites.

As for now, the static list of observatories available in iObserve is available in GET only. But a lot more will come. Here is an example:

api.arcsecond.io/1/observingsites/La Silla

Same as before, leave empty the site name to get the whole list. You can also filter the list by continent (more filters will come):

api.arcsecond.io/1/observingsites?continent=Europe

Next, Telegrams! Very happy to have started this section. Troubles will come with IAU Circulars, but at least here comes a partial implementation of Astronomer’s Telegram (GRBs will also be added soon):

api.arcsecond.io/1/telegrams/ATel/7899

And finally converters. This is the logical completion of the sections, following iObserve own sections. As for now, I have only a basic support for converting coordinates. For instance:

api.arcsecond.io/1/converters/coordinates/ra/3.456/dec/70.2455

Stay tuned for a lot more!

Image Credits: E.S.O. / B. Tafreshi (twanight.org)

Ongoing projects status…

Too much heat these days here… (it’s midnight, and I am coding in my terrasse…). And I need to make a quick summary of what’s going on @ onekilopars.ec… 

First, and foremost, iObserve. An update version in the 1.4 serie is in preparation. It will include some usual small fixes, one clear usability fix for the Fluxes converter, and more importantly an important improvement to the Coordinates converter. No more loading the full DB. An import/export will replace it. Since it is not the most fun to write, it takes a bit of time. Thanks however to some recent input from a user, I’ll try to also include exoplanets transit times in Airmass and Visibility Plots.

Some of the fixes of iObserve will probably need to be ported to iObserve Touch on iPad. The problem here is that the whole app needs to be updated (again). Apple is always moving forward, and I made a choice for that app long ago that prevent me to go a lot further today (buhhh). Yes, MultiTasking won’t be possible with the current configuration (with that super-cool-awesome-but-very-custom split view controller allowing you to have a master table – with tabs! – in the left, the detail on the right, a top times bar, and the whole master thing wrapped up in a popover when being in portrait). The planning for this is: Undefined, unfortunately, even if it is fun to adopt more recent technologies.

Next, the iObserve 2 story… The Desktop client is well underway. I have multiple-windows, and a lot more power features for big screens. But I wanted 2 major stuff for iObserve 2: a dedicated backend, and some advanced algorithms for planets (and not only Moon as I have today).

The backend is in preparation… but guess what, along the way, I found it very interesting and it opens tons of new possibilities. It is in a very pre-alpha state, and it will be called … arcsecond.io. It is very unstable, as I am struggling a bit with the Django-Python-HTML-Bootstrap-Heroku-Postgres stack. But I am actually pushing code now and then into the repo.

As for the algorithms, the obvious reference is Jean Meeus’ Astronomical Algorithms textbook. I have a copy of the book. And I implemented some of it. But there is an existing implementation that is a lot more complete than mine, and a lot more tested. It’s called AA+, by P.J. Naughter. After some discussion he agreed for letting me put hist code into a GitHub open-source repo, for me to write an Objective-C wrapper… which became actually a Swift wrapper! It’s open-source, so have a look!

Of course, putting my hands into Swift, I thought I could do some interesting stuff with it. And one very nice ESO guy suggested me to write an app for monitoring the ESO archive live, every night. That’s a great occasion to start a new app with all the amazing new stuff iOS8 introduced. So here it will be: SkyDataFlows.

Of course, to read correctly the ESO DB, one must parse the VOTable output. And there is no VOTable parser written in Swift… so here it is! SwiftVOTable, open-source, boum.

And beside this, waiting, is my iTiunes-For-FITS file app (which benefits from the progress of the development of iObserve 2), and some other web projects with a friend of mine. Dev is a lifestyle, a mental life with ups and down! #yeah

iObserve Touch 1.1 submitted

That’s it, finally. iObserve for iPad version 1.1 has been pushed to Apple for review. It should be available within a week. Be aware that this new version drops the support for iOS6 and iOS7! It is an iOS8-only update. Let me know if this is a big issue for you, since it is a survival decision for me…

I mean, I update iObserve on desktop, iObserve on iPad, QLFits on demand, trying to make some advances in Swift, work hard on my web app PicoLegends… and finally spend some time on iObserve Server (I’ll post the beta URL soon) and iObserve 2 on desktop, all of this in spare time. Who said software is not a way of life!

iObserve Touch will come first!

Hm, the parsing of ASCII files isn’t the most motivating thing to do… and to test. In fact, the Coordinates converter of iObserve OSX is indeed coming. But in the meantime, I worked on iObserve for iPad these days. It is waiting for an update since way too much time! There will be some important fixes and a full support for iOS8. I’ll keep you posted when it is submitted to the store.

Don’t use the Coordinates converter…

… a new one is coming!

Users of iObserve, you all have certainly tried the main Coordinates converter, located in the « Converters » section. And you also know that it loads all imported stars from the database, filling up the memory. 

 The Coordinates converter in iObserve 1.4
The Coordinates converter in iObserve 1.4

Surprisingly, I never knew what to really do for making this pane useful. Just recently, a friend of mine (and a very efficient bug reporter…) enlightened me! I will stop loading objects from the DB and allow to import coordinates from a file. Obvious, isn’t it? I’ll also add the obvious counterpart which is the export of the converted coordinates.

The most geeky of us have certainly wondered about a command-line helper / utility, that would ship with the main app. It would be great, indeed. As for now, I don’t know if it is possible inside the MacAppStore. But it is on my « do if possible » list. 

Clear skies to everyone!

Annoying bug for Mavericks Users

It has been reported to me that there is an annoying bug for Mavericks users with the latest iObserve version 1.4.0. The « New Object » sheet doesn’t appear at all. Sorry for that! I am currently fixing it and will push it ASAP to the App Store for review. In the meantime, you can use the ‘Import from list’ feature, in the ‘File’ menu (I know, this isn’t as good… Pro tip: Did you know that by alt-clicking on « New Object » you were actually opening the ‘Import from list’ sheet?…